February 15, 2016 9:01 pm
Updated: February 16, 2016 8:23 am

Edmonton filmmaker uses government grant to promote people with special needs

WATCH ABOVE: When Anthony Barrett's mother wanted him to get a job, she needed a way to get potential employers to see past his autism. The answer ended up being a video, which was produced by fellow Edmontonian Mikey Hamm. Su-Ling Goh has their story.


EDMONTON — Mikey Hamm is a support worker for a man with autism, and now the Edmonton man is also making cool videos about people with special needs, thanks in part to a government grant.

“Everyone needs to be able to tell their story, to explain who they are, to have that identity,” said Hamm.

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It all began with a video called “Anthony At Your Service.” Hamm works with Anthony Barrett, who has autism.

Anthony’s mother decided to start a delivery business for her son, who is mostly non-verbal.

“Anthony’s a great guy, but he’s not the type to walk up and shake your hand and tell you about himself,” said Hamm. “So I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll just make a little video.'”

WATCH: Man with autism reaches business milestone

The online commercial shows potential employers why Anthony is someone worth hiring, and it quickly racked up thousands of views and dozens of clients for Barrett.

That’s when the calls started coming in from other families asking Hamm to make videos for their loved ones. Hamm spends several days with his clients to make them feel comfortable and he films on his iPhone rather than a big camera.

“The first purpose of the video is to give people something that they can use to introduce themselves, to tell their story,” said Hamm, “A lot of these people can’t tell their story on their own.”

Some families have hired Hamm to promote their loved one’s business, such as Made by Brad. Other videos made by Hamm are meant to attract, and retain, good support workers.

“[Andre] is a little unpredictable and can rub people the wrong way sometimes at first, until you get to know him,” said Hamm. “So his mom was like, ‘Make a video that shows what he’s like once you get past that.'”

Hamm recently received a grant from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. The money is enough to cover videos for seven clients. His latest is Kevin “PK” Harris, a 28-year-old rapper with autism.

“I think that’s very noble work that [Mikey] is doing,” said Terry Harris, Kevin’s father.

“This is very important work to expose gifts… for people who wouldn’t otherwise have those gifts exposed.”

*EDITOR’S NOTE: this article was originally published at 6:50 p.m. on February 15th, and was updated to clarify that Mikey Hamm is still Anthony Barrett’s support worker in addition to making the videos.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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